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Plausible energy demand patterns in a growing global economy with climate policy

Gregor Semieniuk, Lance Taylor, Armon Rezai and Duncan Foley

No 39, Ecological Economic Papers from WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: Reducing energy demand has become a key mechanism for limiting climate change, but practical problems with large energy savings in a growing global economy and, importantly, in its lower-income parts remain. Using new energy-GDP data, we show that adopting the same near-term low-energy growth trajectory in all regions in IPCC scenarios limiting global warming to 1.5°C presents an unresolved policy challenge. We discuss this challenge of combining energy demand reductions with robustincome growth for the 6.4 billion people in middle and low income countries in light of economic development’s reliance on industrialisation. Our results highlight the importance of addressing limits to energy demand reduction in integrated assessment modelling when regional economic development is powered by industrialization and instead exploring faster energy supply decarbonization. Insights from development economics and other disciplines could help generate plausible assumptions given the financial, investment and stability issues involved.

Date: 2020-11
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